New Zealand City Names

March 29th, 2016 at 6:40 am by David Farrar

A pet peeve of mine is that we don’t do well in NZ with displaying out history. We have so few statues and history panels around our cities. Take for example, Wellington. We’re named after one of the greatest people in British and military history. But where would you find that around the city? We should have a statue of the Duke of Wellington, explaining we are named after him.

For those interested, I’ve done a table of who or what the 13 major cities in New Zealand are named after. If I have the time, I may extend it to larger towns.

City Named After Fame
Auckland George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland First Lord of the Admiralty, commissioned Hobson to sail for East Indies
Wellingon Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington Defeated Napoleon, Field Marshall, UK PM
Christchurch Christ Church, Oxford A constituent college of Oxford University
Hamilton Captain John Fane Charles Hamilton Scottish commander of HMS Esk, who was killed in the battle of Gate PāTauranga
Dunedin Dùn Èideann  Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh
Tauranga Maori name for landing place
Lower Hutt Sir William Hutt A British Liberal politician who was heavily involved in the colonization of New Zealand and South Australia
Palmerston North Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston UK PM
Napier Sir Charles James Napier general of the British Empire and the British Army‘s Commander-in-Chief in India, notable for conquering Sindh in what is now Pakistan.
Porirua a variant of pari-rua (“two tides”), a reference to the two arms of the Porirua Harbour
Invercargill  Inver comes from the Scottish Gaelic word inbhir meaning a river’s mouth and Cargill is in honour of Captain William Cargill Founder and Superintendent of Otago
Nelson Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson


Admiral, won  Battle of Trafalgar
Upper Hutt Sir William Hutt A British Liberal politician who was heavily involved in the colonization of New Zealand and South Australia

I knew most of these before I looked them up, but not the Hutt or Invercargill ones.

If NZ did join Australia

November 30th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Heather du Plessis-Allan writes:

Sure, it’s not an immediately popular idea, but hear me out. Taking up the offer to become part of Australia could be a good thing.

If New Zealand did join Australia as two states (NI and SI) then John Key would no doubt become Prime Minister of Australia, with Malcolm Turnbull as his Deputy.

The North Island would have 22 MPs and the South Island seven MPs, out of 178 total.

In terms of Senators they would have 12 each out of 100 total.

Andrew Little would roll Bill Shorten as Federal Opposition Leader.

But who would become the Premiers of the NI State and SI State?

My pick would be Jacinda Ardern as the Premier of the North Island, as all NI Premiers would come from Auckland.

And down south, Amy Adams as the Premier of the South Island!

Japan loses

March 31st, 2014 at 11:00 pm by David Farrar

Australia (with support from New Zealand) has won against Japan in the International Court of Justice with a 12-4 ruling that Japan’s whaling programme is not scientific research and it has stated that Japan should not issue any further permits.

The decisions of the ICJ are final and can not be appealed. Of course a state could refuse to implement them, but the reputational loss would be massive.

Japan may halt their whaling programme entirely, or try and create a new “scientific” programme in the future. It has been suggested in the past that they wanted to end it anyway, but didn’t want to be seen giving into the quasi-terrorism of Sea Shepherd. So hopefully they will accept the court ruling, abandon the pretense that the whaling was for scientific purposes and cease operations. That would be a good thing.

New Zealand General Social Survey

January 15th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

I missed this when released, but Stats NZ does a general social survey every two years.  Some of the results for 2012 compared to 2008:

  • Satisfied or very satisfied with life 86.7% (+1.7%)
  • Adequacy of income not enough 15.3% (-0.1%)
  • Have a major house problem 33.5% (-3.8%)
  • Feel safe/very safe in neighbourhood 67.2% (+15.7%)
  • Have experienced discrimination in the last year 9.6% (-0.5%)
  • Household mainly recycles 80.1% (+6.6%)

A massive increase in the proportion who feel safe in their neighbourhood, and minor improvements in other areas.

Mitchell’s 10 positive trends

December 31st, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Lindsay Mitchell blogs on 10 positive trends in NZ:

  1. A 20% drop in assaults on Police (due to tasers)
  2. A 35% drop in Sudden Infant Deaths
  3. A 17% drop in recorded crime
  4. A 25% drop in the smoking rate
  5. A drop in the teenage birth rate since 2008
  6. A drop in the abortion rate for last five years
  7. A 60 year low road toll
  8. A long-term drop in the child mortality rate
  9. A 23% drop in the Maori male suicide rate
  10. A 10% drop in the rheumatic rate among children

I could add on stuff such as a huge drop in the number of 13 to 18 year olds who drink alcohol.

‘Weekly’ Wallpaper | Sunset Silhouette From Somewhere Southern

August 8th, 2013 at 12:54 pm by Todd Sisson
Photo of Row of pine trees silhouetted against vibrant sunset clouds. Rangitata Valley, Canterbury NZ.

A vivid Nor’ west sunset silhouettes a pine shelter belt somewhere in Canterbury New Zealand.  Photography by Todd Sisson


This is another image pulled from our new photography eBook  Living Landscapes which, I am relieved to report, is selling well and garnering some great reviews now that it is out in the wild.

I have been writing some regular ‘how to’ posts over at the publisher’s website that may interest the photographers amongst you:

I think DPF has been reading this stuff somewhere – his travel photography is getting quite impressive, I’ll have to up my game!

See you next week.

Cheers – Todd

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Wednesday Wallpaper | Sunrise over Moeraki Boulders

July 24th, 2013 at 12:17 pm by Todd Sisson
Cover image of landscape photography book Living Landscapes - Sunrise over Moeraki, North Otago New Zealand. Landscape photography by Todd Sisson.

Sunrise at Moeraki boulders, North Otago New Zealand. Landscape photography by Todd Sisson.

The cover shot for our new photography guide Living Landscapes, which went on sale today – check it out if you are interested in learning all of our nifty tricks and secrets 😉

This image is one of a series of interesting shots that I managed to capture one very productive morning at Moeraki – I wish all of my 5AM starts worked out this well….  The wave motion is not photoshop jiggery-pokery, it  is a 2 second long exposure made while the waves were receding (wet and frozen feet are a must for seascape photography).

See you next week!

Cheers – Todd

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Thanks for your support!

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The Australian economy

May 24th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Greg Ansley at NZ Herald reports:

Unemployment rate of 5.5 per cent set to rise with more job losses in manufacturing sector Ford’s decision to shut down its production lines in Australia at the cost of thousands of jobs across the automotive industry has dealt another heavy blow to Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s ailing minority Government.

Although Ford’s exit has long been expected after 20 years of declining fortunes for the industry, the disappearance of its iconic Falcon is not only a heavy blow to the national psyche but will also further undermine voter perceptions of Labor’s economic credentials.

Ford’s announcement comes a week after a federal budget marked by major spending cuts and expectations of continued deficits, driving down consumer confidence and placing employment squarely in the spotlight for the September 14 election.

Luke Malpass wrote at Stuff how Australia is not living within its means:

A regular question in New Zealand and Australia is whether our respective nations succeed because of, or in spite of, our politicians.

As both nations’ Budgets were read this week, it was a story of two countries that have faced a vastly different set of circumstances over the past five years, and the choices both have made in light of that.

In 2008, Australia had a mining boom, rising wages and no debt. Its government had delivered consistent surpluses, tax cuts and targeted cash payments to targeted voter groups. Growth was assumed and household wealth doubled during the Howard years. It even avoided recession.

In contrast, New Zealand was lurching into debt, had a collapsed non- bank finance sector, a tradeables sector that had been squeezed for several years, a real recession in advance of the global recession, and a structural deficit

So when Finance Minister Bill English announced last Thursday that New Zealand is on track to record a budget surplus (albeit tiny) in 2014-15, it stood in stark contrast to Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan announcing his sixth budget deficit.

Unfortunately for Mr Swan, he had been promising a surplus for 2013 since 2009, and last year he announced “four years of surpluses” to begin this year. So his staggering A$19.4 billion deficit, with years of deficits ahead, was quite incomprehensible.

And recall how certain parties attacked every single act of spending restraint done by the Government over the last four and a half years.

Since Mr Swan has taken over as treasurer, tax revenue has increased by roughly the equivalent of New Zealand’s entire budget. Unfortunately, he and prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard spent all of the increase plus some, and are miffed because revenue did not increase at an even higher rate.

Yep. While NZ Labour’s plan are to bring in some new taxes, and hike spending.

Budgets are ultimately about choices. The Australian Government chose to run it close to the wind, increasing spending by as much as the most optimistic revenue forecasts would allow.

New Zealand made a very different and far more difficult set of choices. In 2008 the issues were obvious: productivity growth was poor, taxes too high – particularly at a relatively modest level of income – and the tax system had little internal integrity.

Government was chomping its way through far too much of the national pie, crowding out private sector activity.

One important thing the New Zealand Government has done is tamp down expectations of spending increases, concentrating on core activities and not using government as a vehicle to give handouts to partisan coalitions of voter groups.

In fact much of the extra spending by National has gone in areas where there are not high pressure lobby groups demanding more money for themselves, but in areas that will promote economic growth such as tourism and science.

But there are still worrying signs. Both New Zealand and Australia have superannuation burdens set to grow immensely, and health and welfare spending continues to outstrip the ability of society to pay in the long term.

Yep. They will be the big challenges for the future.

NZ vs Australia

May 5th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Luke Malpass writes in the Australian Financial Review:

How exactly is it that New Zealand – a country that went into recession in early 2008, had a collapsed non-bank finance sector, didn’t have a mining boom, has a historically high dollar and had its second biggest city basically levelled by an earthquake – is on track to record a budget surplus as scheduled and on time in 2014-15? This question raises a second one: why is Australia not in this position?

I think we don’t give enough credit to the Government for the very challenging task they have had, where they had to both have an expansionary fiscal policy during the depths of the global recession, but also impose spending restraint so that the projected structural deficit would have a path towards becoming a surplus.

Australia has shown how easy it is to blow a projected surplus.

The odd thing about this is that Swan and his government perpetually cast themselves as victims: of a global downturn and an unappreciative public.

But in fact, a look across the Tasman shows Swan and Labor are victims only of their own appalling policy choices. Overall Kiwi growth is at about 3 per cent – NZ grew 1.5 per cent last quarter alone. Unemployment and welfare numbers are dropping, virtually every export sector, including manufacturing has been growing. Businesses everywhere are complaining they can’t get skilled labour.

The growth in Australia is hugely variable. Western Australia has been growing faster than China. Queensland has had strong growth. But the larger states of Victoria and New South Wales were actually contracting for a while.

The Gillard government is now in the ridiculous situation that despite revenue increases since 2010, historically high terms of trade, and relatively low unemployment, any surplus has been shunted away into the future. Comparatively, New Zealand, despite relatively poor growth until recently, no mining boom and an enormous earthquake, will complete a bigger surplus than expected, earlier than forecast.

Go New Zealand!


April 26th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Tony Alexander from BNZ writes:

Against the Australian currency the NZD has risen firmly in recent weeks and now sits at its highest level since October 2009. This movement upward from 80 cents a month ago is based upon a number of things. …

Third, the fiscal track in NZ is surprising on the positive side with revenue inflows running ahead of expectations this year. In contrast in Australia the Treasurer Wayne Swan has had to make a very embarrassing climb-down from his position that fiscal surplus would be achieved in 2013/14 no matter what. Now he speaks in terms of a surplus not appearing for many years. Commentators are noting that a Federal Labour government in Australia has not produced a surplus since 1989, there is growing criticism of the never-ending spending promises being made, and this week Standard and Poors warned that they could cut Australia’s rating in five years’ time.

That is a fascinating statistic. No surplus since 1989.

Fourth, Australia’s currency is more strongly assessed as being tied to growth prospects in China than the NZD.

Fifth, as China grows the expectation is that NZ will benefit more than Australia from here on out because of strong food demand compared with past strong demand for coal and iron ore.

Hopefully the demand will hold up. As unemployment in Spain hits 27%, Europe is going to remain a basket case for some time.


Audrey Young on the NZ China relationship

April 11th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young writes:

Why does the world biggest country pay so much attention to such a small country as New Zealand?

Before the changing of the guard in the Beijing leadership last month, of the nine former members of the powerful group Standing committee of the Politburo, seven had visited New Zealand.

The only other country to receive such a concentration high-level visits is said to be Singapore.

The new Standing Committee has been reduced to seven and only two have been to New Zealand, but the most important two, the President Xi Jinping (three times) and the Premier Li Leqiang in 2009 both in former capacities.

New Zealand has had annual talks with Beijing for some time. Australia has just got them this week.

Prime Minister John Key is being accorded time with both the Premier and President this trip.

So why does one of the smallest countries in the world have such a good relationship with the largest country in the world?

New Zealand is also small enough for China to test out ideas without complications, such as the joint aid project to provide Rarotonga with clean water. …

China is usually secretive and defensive about its aid budget. The Cook Islands joint aid venture is a first for them.

I wasn’t aware of that. The Pacific was in danger of becoming an arena for competing aid diplomacy. A co-operative approach is in fact much better for the Pacific.

One of the least recognised reasons China is so well disposed to New Zealand is the late Rewi Alley, the New Zealander who lived in China for 60 years helping to establish co-operatives -though these day the most famous Kiwi is probably Sir Peter Jackson.

No Hobbit or Jackson haters in China.

Ross Sea protection

March 21st, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Michael Field at Stuff reported:

The United States and New Zealand have announced they are planning to create the world’s largest marine protected area.

The 4.9 million square kilometre Ross Sea MPA in Antarctica would be nine times the size of New Zealand.

The plan has been announced in Washington by new US Secretary of State John Kerry and the New Zealand ambassador to Washington, Mike Moore.

They were speaking at the screening the National Geographic Museum of The Last Ocean by New Zealand film-maker Peter Young. …

The US, the European Union and 23 other countries including New Zealand will decide in July whether to approve permanent protections for the Ross Sea and for a second area in East Antarctica, or to allow large-scale industrial fishing to continue.

An attempt last November to create the MPA at a meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, failed. …

Key areas to protect include a full range of marine habitats; from the ice edge to deep oceanic basins. The proposal protects the ecologically important features and habitats, including winter ice-free areas, the entire Victoria Coast from McMurdo Sound to Cape Adare, the Balleny Islands, and almost the entire Ross Sea continental shelf.

The large bulk of the MPA, the general protection zone, will be a no-take area.

Under the proposal the toothfish fishery would continue in areas outside the MPA.

It is good to have the US and NZ in agreement, as previously there were different proposals.

And it is good they are proposing a vast marine reserve for most of the Ross Sea.

But there is still an issue of whether the marine reserve should include the entire Ross Sea – just as all of Antarctica is protected for scientific research, not just some of it.

I don’t think there is a shortage of other areas to fish. Some ecosystems should be left undisturbed, and Antarctica is one of them.

Clarkson on NZ

March 18th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Adam Dudding at Stuff reports:

Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has broken the habit of a lifetime and said something nice about a foreign country – namely New Zealand.

Clarkson, who has referred to Mexicans as “lazy, feckless, flatulent” oafs, given a Nazi salute in an episode about BMWs, and labelled Australians “convicts”, raves about New Zealand in his column in today’s London Sunday Times.

New Zealand, he writes, is “absolutely stunning; bite-the-back-of-your-hand-to-stop-yourself-from-crying-out lovely”.

It is. I think we take what we have for granted sometimes.

With characteristic humility, Clarkson uses his newspaper column to advise God that he made a mistake when choosing the Middle East as his religious base.

“If you were God and you were all-powerful, you wouldn’t select Bethlehem as a suitable birthplace for your only child because it’s a horrible place.

“And you certainly wouldn’t let him grow up anywhere in the Holy Land.

“What you’d actually do is choose New Zealand.”

If God really were all-knowing, continues Clarkson, “children at Christmas time today would be singing ‘Oh little town of Wellington’ and people would not cease from mental fight until Jerusalem had been built in Auckland’s green and pleasant land.”

Perhaps the most startling compliment, however, is Clarkson’s claim that if God had got it right, “Jesus would have been from Palmerston North”, a stark deviation from the verdict of his countryman John Cleese, who once said the North Island city should be renamed “suicide capital of New Zealand” because “if you wish to kill yourself but lack the courage to, I think a visit to Palmerston North will do the trick”.

Where would they find a virgin in Palmerston North?? 🙂

10 reasons NZ is better than Australia

February 7th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Colin Espiner writes in The Press ten reasons why he thinks NZ is better than Australia:

  1. We’re more friendly
  2. Small is beautiful
  3. Our houses are cheaper
  4. Our food and drink is better
  5. We love our indigenous culture
  6.  We’re not so uptight
  7. We’re more entrepreneurial
  8. There’s fewer things that can hurt or kill you
  9. Our TV’s better
  10. The weather

I’m sure there will be a variety of views on this one!

Wednesday (Just) Wallpaper | The Boardwalk, Okarito

September 19th, 2012 at 8:13 pm by Todd Sisson
New Zealand photos | beautiul Boardwalk, Okarito Lagoon, West Coast NZ

Meandering Boardwalk, Okarito Lagoon, Westland, New Zealand
Photography By Todd Sisson

Welcome to the  tardiest Wednesday Wallpaper post yet.  It has been a frantic day, blog posts and social media have had to slip down the priority list – I toyed with posting this tomorrow, but couldn’t arrive at any catchy strap-line to tie in with Thursday….

This boardwalk is on the Okarito Trig track.  It must have been constructed during more fiscally ebullient times (read: during Helen’s reign) as it is a magnificent exercise in whimsical form and folly.  I love it. Its meandering form really is beautiful to behold and it is much more fun to walk over than the practical and economically sensible alternative – a straight boardwalk.

The rest of the walk is wonderful too and culminates in some redonkulously good views of the Southern Alps.

You may download the large version from this link:  [free iPad wallpaper] Password = freewallpaper

See you next week!

Cheers – Todd

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Wednesday Wallpaper 1 August | Sunrise From Pouakai Ridge, Mt Egmont National Park

August 1st, 2012 at 10:45 am by Todd Sisson
New Zealand Landscape Photos | Red Sunrise Pouakai Ridge Taranaki

Sunrise from the Pouakai ridge Mt Egmont National Park, Taranaki New Zealand

Welcome to Wednesday (and August).

A little respite from South Island scenery this week, this image was made from the Pouakai Ridge on the Northern flank of Mt Taranaki.  Sarah & I hiked up in the dark on the previous evening – fortunately the sun broke through, as it would have been a lot of effort for a photo of fog & mist shrouded tusssocks….

As always, this is available as a [free iPad wallpaper] Password = freewallpaper

Thanks again to David for hosting Wednesday Wallpaper.  Have a great week.

Cheers – Todd

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The Atlantic on New Zealand

March 27th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

An article in The Atlantic Magazine talks about why NZ is better than the US:

THE PULITZER PRIZE–WINNING scholar David Hackett Fischer—whose books include Historians’ Fallacies and one of the most creative and innovative books on American history in the past quarter century, Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America—declares that his new work is the first historical examination of the idea of fairness, and of its social and political ramifications. I haven’t been able to pin that down. Nevertheless, this comparison of the United States with New Zealand is a pioneering, illuminating, and at times startling book, which you’d think those given to diagnosing and expatiating about the nature and future direction of American society would jump to read. But because it’s lengthy (656 pages) and complex, and delves into such recondite matters as settlement patterns in colonial America, the history of New Zealand’s feminist movements, and the evolution of the Lib-Lab coalition, this book won’t be column fodder for the punditocracy.

Ambitious and observant, widely (if at times sloppily) researched, Fairness and Freedom is a work of frequently profound historical and social analysis. Its purpose is neither programmatic nor polemical. Still, its main value for American readers may be its unintentional skewering of our self-congratulatory tendencies. Our democratic values, rule of law, and tolerance are a model to the world—or so Democratic and Republican politicians’ rhetoric and even our political scientists’ pronouncements would have it. But those who speak today of America as “the last best hope of Earth” or as “the indispensable nation” seem narcissistically unaware that Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand developed and fought for those same civic virtues independently of, and in some ways in opposition to, America.

New Zealand—where during the Second World War the Austrian emigré Karl Popper wrote his enormously influential The Open Society and Its Enemies, an excoriation of historicist totalitarianism and a defense of liberal democracy—is a particularly successful polity and society. In some ways its achievements seem all the greater when compared with those of the United States. In 2010, its unemployment rate was nearly half of ours. Our economic inequality is the highest of any developed country’s; New Zealand’s hovers much lower on the list. New Zealand ranks first in Transparency International’s global survey of government honesty; the United States ranks 22nd—just ahead of Uruguay! And comparable divergences, Fischer shows, are found “in trends and measures of political partisanship, legislative stalemate, judicial dysfunction, infrastructure decay, home foreclosures, family distress, drug consumption, and social violence.” Fischer’s rich cultural analysis leaves little doubt that New Zealand’s achievements are largely rooted in its “highly developed vernacular ideas of fairness,” a complex set of values that Kiwis prize and pursue earnestly. The result: by virtually every measure, New Zealand has a more just and decent society than ours—while resorting far less readily to legalistic and legislative remedies.

Americans tend to disdain, say, effete northern-European countries, with their generous social-welfare provisions and histories of neutrality and defeatism. But Fischer’s astute examination of Kiwis’ esteemed tradition of skill and courage on the battlefield—epitomized by their beloved Second World War heroes Bernard Freyburg, Howard Kippenberger, Humphrey Dyer, and Charles Upham (“combat officers who led from the front, brave beyond imagining, loyal to a fault … close to their men and very careful with their lives”)—won’t allow the scoffers to dismiss New Zealand. (Surprisingly, Fischer doesn’t discuss the New Zealander Keith Park, the RAF’s brilliant key operational commander during the Battle of Britain. As “the only man who could have lost the war in a day, or even an afternoon,” in the words of Air Vice Marshall Johnnie Johnson, Park is a military figure of nothing less than world-historical importance.) Characterized by initiative and aggressiveness combined with a chivalric ethos, a respect for the intellect, and an impatience with rank and hierarchy, New Zealand’s martial virtues have imbued Kiwis’ sense of fairness and decency with muscularity—a quiet courage and a puckish, manly large-spiritedness.

Fischer’s purpose in writing what is almost certainly the most detailed and sophisticated dissection of New Zealand society ever aimed at an American readership is decidedly not, however, to fashion a paean to Kiwis. That society appealingly (at least from my perspective) marries two complementary traits that Americans wrongly believe to be antithetical: it is both deeply conservative and fiercely egalitarian. The result, as the American journalist John Gunther (not quoted by Fischer) observed in 1972, is a cooperative society of “wholesome lives” in which “democracy is carried to the ultimate”—but a society marked by a somewhat “low-burning ambition.” For better and worse, Americans will never emulate New Zealanders. But as we enter the Pacific Century, New Zealand and its more energetic antipodean cousin will be playing an ever more vital economic, cultural, and political role. Rather than continue pontificating about “America’s larger purpose in the world” (to quote our president’s messianic invocation), we’d perhaps be better off shutting up and trying to learn something from other peoples. This book is an excellent place to start.

I quoted the whole article, because the writing is so good, I didn’t want to paraphrase it.

How many people do we want?

March 9th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Eric Crampton blogs:

New Zealand, population 15 million. That’s the target for 2060 in a new NZIER working paper making the case for substantial New Zealand population growth.

The paper says:

A population target of 15 million by 2060 (2.5 times that now projected) is not only “feasible”, it is also likely to be sufficient to achieve the benefits from scale. It would allow four main cities with a population of three million or more each. This would foster competition within New Zealand to create conditions amenable to building local firms that can foot it internationally. It would bring New Zealand’s population into close proximity of the Netherlands (but still nowhere near the population density of that country).

Eric proposes:

Potential policy moves that encourage immigration, and especially higher-skilled immigration? First on my list would be immediate permanent residence for any foreign student completing a Bachelor’s degree at one of the New Zealand universities. This will not only boost foreign student enrolments (helping to cross-subsidize domestic students) but also provide a nice selection mechanism for those who are most likely to really make a contribution. We could also draw in high skilled American migrants by not losing our comparative advantage in civil liberties and sane copyright legislation.

Complementary to increased immigration would be fixing local land use policy that forces up housing prices, but that’s also well worth doing for its own sake.

I broadly agree. I’m not sure about 15 million, but think 10 million is a reasonable target.

NZ temperatures in 2011

January 12th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

NIWA have released:

The nation-wide average temperature for 2011 was 12.8°C, 0.3°C above the 1971–2000 annual average, using NIWA’s seven-station temperature series which begins in 1909.  2011 was the 17th warmest year since 1909, based on this 7-station series.

17th warmest. Some extremes though:

The highest recorded extreme temperature of the year (41.3°C) occurred at Timaru on 6 February (a new all-time high temperature record in the area).

Ouch. Also of interest is how each month compared to the norm for that month:

  • Jan +0.3
  • Feb +0.7
  • Mar +0.0
  • Apr -0.4
  • May +2.2
  • Jun +1.5
  • Jul +0.1
  • Aug -0.5
  • Sep -0.7
  • Oct +0.3
  • Nov -0.2
  • Dec +0.2

May was a scorcher.

The highest mean temp was 16.7 in Leigh and lowest was 7.6 at the Chateau, Mt Ruapehu.

Most rainfall was 9.49m at Cropp River and least was 0.39m at Clyde.

Nelson had the most sunshine with 2487 hours (6.8 hours a day) and Franz Josef the least at 1598 hours (4.4 hours a day).


What a tournament

October 24th, 2011 at 8:54 am by David Farrar

It has been a tough 12 months for New Zealand. 11 months ago, we had the Pike River explosion, and then in February the second Christchurch earthquake. On top of that, we’ve watched as countries big (US) and small (Greece) topple on the edge of disaster with debt defaults, and have wondered how badly will we be hit, if one or more countries drown under their debt burdens.

So when we won the hosting rights in 2005, who would have thought it would prove such a tonic for our country. It has captured our collective spirit in a way I’ve not seen with any other sports tournament. Why has it been so good? Many, many factors. Here’s some of the factors and people to thank in my opinion.

  • Jock Hobbs and Helen Clark for winning us the hosting rights. My third favourite moment of the RWC was having Jock Hobbs present Rochie McCaw with his 100th test cap.
  • Leon Grice and the RWC2011 team who implemented the concept of a stadium of four million people. Leon told me at a fairly early stage about the plans (which were part of the bid) to have teams and overseas fans “hosted” by various cities and towns, and it was an inspired idea that worked magnificently.
  • Martin Snedden and the NZRFU who organised the tournament so well. I loved the choirs, and the Oles at each kick off!
  • The four million Kiwis who loved being great hosts. It’s something we excel at.
  • Also those who attended the games and cheered passionately for whichever team we adopted for the day. For many of the teams, they probably played to a bigger more supportive home crowd than they ever got at home.
  • The party central and fan zones. They were brilliant. We are (mostly) social creatures and even the largest pub can only hold so many. They were almost too popular in Auckland, but also made the rest of the country feel part of the action.
  • RWC Minister Murray McCully. Murray gets a fair bit of flak for his hands on management style and one journalist famously said Murray makes Helen Clark’s micro-management look like benign neglect! But in this case, Murray and his team’s attention to detail have  paid off in spades.
  • The RWC Opening Ceremony. The comparison to 1987 RWC is like comparing humans to apes. The ceremony was Olympic-class. It was my second favourite moment of the tournament.
  • The minnow teams. They all played their best games, and all 48 matches were good games to watch. This wasn’t a tournament of three or four countries, but all 20. If it were not for Canada, France would not have even made the quarter-finals, let alone the final.
  • The mighty All Blacks.  They won the average pool game by 60 points to 12 – a 48 point margin. They won their quarter-final by 23 points, their semi-final by 14 points and the final by one point.
  • While it is a team effort, Graham Henry and Richie McCaw impressed and inspired as coach and captain. Richie one day will sit in Olympus as one of the Gods of the game.
  • The French. They hit their top form just when it was needed, to give the All Blacks the fight of their lives. The French and the Welsh should both be proud of their team’s achievements.
  • The Final. I’ve never been so caught up in a game. God knows what would have happened if we had lost. I now understand why 30% of NZers said the outcome of the RWC mattered more to them than the election outcome. I was living in terror of the drop goal. Breating was optional for those last few minutes.
  • The Award Ceremony. This was my number one moment of the tournament, with two parts resonating especially. McCaw holding the Webb Ellis Cup aloft. That moment will become as iconic as David Kirk’s 24 years earlier. But the most emotional moment was when the Cup was taken onto the ground by a Canterbury boy whose mother had died in the earthquake. His beaming smile of joy led to many a tear being shed, as people reflected how rare such smiles has probably been since the earthquake.

So it has been a great six weeks, and the All Blacks are world champions. Despite the euphoria, I think this will be the last Rugby World cup we host in New Zealand. But it will be a tournament that I know I, and many others, will never forget.

Feel free to share below your favourite memories. No negativity on this thread please. If you feel the need, go to General Debate.

Well done the French

October 23rd, 2011 at 10:52 pm by David Farrar

Well the New Zealand All Blacks are the world champions by 8 points to 7. Let the celebrations begin!!!!

But full credit to the French who played a magnificent game, and performed so very very well that they must be gutted not to have won, but should be proud of their play.

Data galore

November 26th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

MSD commissioned a longitudinal survey of 7,000 children born from 2008 to 2010 in the Aucland and Waikato areas. Auckland University will continue surveying them until they reach 21 years old. This is going to give us a huge amount of incredibly useful data, and yesterday the first tranche was released.

The study has a dedicated website at Growing Up.

The large size of 7,000 means it can be taken to reflect the whole of NZ. Already the antenatal data is fascinating:

  • 40 percent of children were unplanned
  • More than one in 10 mothers continued to smoke through their pregnancies, including 34% of Maori mothers. Onlu 0.4% of Asian mothers smoke during pregnancy.
  • Many mothers consumed alcohol during pregnancy
  • Forty nine percent of mothers identify as NZ European, 18 percent as Māori, 15 percent as Pacific and 15 percent as Asian
  • One in three of the Growing Up children have at least one parent born overseas
  • One in five children will grow up in homes where English is not the main language (although 97 percent of mothers and partners are able to converse in everyday English)
  • Twenty-eight percent of mothers live either on their own or with extended family (sometimes including their partner)
  • Five percent of mothers are teenagers
  • Ten percent of mothers needed fertility assistance to get pregnant
  • Nearly half (45 percent) of mothers in high deprivation areas were unaware of Working for Families
  • the average age of parents having children in New Zealand (first or subsequent) is now greater than 30 years;
  • Only 60% of parents are in a legally binding relationship
  • 45% of families have a first child have household income of over $100,000 per annum
  • Only 3% of mothers whose pregnancy was planned had no qualifications while 14% of mothers whose pregnancy was unplanned had no qualifications.
  • 49% of planned pregnancy mothers have a degree vs 22% of unplanned pregnancy mothers
  • 70% of mothers had a previous pregnancy, and of that 70%, 17% had the previous pregnancy end before 24 weeks

I find it interesting that those who most need Working for Families were least aware of it. Maybe there should have been less TV ads showing kids enjoying ipods, and more targeted direct mail.

The stats on smoking during pregnancy are a shocker – especially when you consider the huge amount of money given to literally dozens of Maori groups to try and reduce smoking rates amongst Maori.

Lots and lots of data to reflect on.

The importance of tax cuts

August 27th, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Bill English’s office has put out a comparison of real (CPI adjusted) net (after tax) wage growth for a full-time worker on the average (mean) wage.

The Australian data only goes back to 1994, so the first time period compared is Sep 1994 to Sep 1999 – the final quarter before Labour took office.

During those five years the real net income for a FT worker on the average wage rose 13.2% in New Zealand and 6.2% in Australia.

Then over the next nine years from September 1999 to September 2008, the increase in New Zealand was 3.0% and in Australia it was 19.3%. Yep six times greater in Australia. They had high wages, low inflation and tax cuts. We had no tax cuts, higher inflation and lower wage increases.

From Since September 2008, to June 2010, the increase in New Zealand has been 8.7% vs 4.8% in Australia.

If one translates this to average annual increases, then the comparison would be:

  • Sep 94 – Sep 99 – 2.6% NZ vs 1.2% Aust
  • Sep 99 – Sep 08 – 0.3% NZ vs 2.1% Aust
  • Sep 08 – Jun 10 – 5.0% NZ vs 2.7% Aust

Now the time periods used are slightly cheery picked, in that the latest period includes both the April 2009 tax cuts and the October 2008 tax cuts – so they do not correspond exactly to Government terms. But on the other hand Labour did the Oct 2008 tax cuts most grudgingly, because of the election, and probably would ave cancelled them if they had retained office.

The stat that stands out to me is that during those nine years from Sep 99 to Sep 08, the average after tax income only grew 0.3% a year. Fiscal drag mean someone on the average wage paid more and more tax as their salary increased.

Rudd to address NZ Parliament

June 15th, 2010 at 4:48 pm by David Farrar

John Key has just announced that Kevin Rudd will visit on 29th of June for talks on progressing the single economic market for Australia and NZ.

The PMs always meet up annually, but what is unusual is that Rudd has been invited to address the House of Representatives – the first foreign leader to do so.

This seems quite a smart move to me – emphasises the special relationship between the two countries.

Will try and pop into the gallery to see this.

Clark: NZ deeply racist

May 30th, 2010 at 4:01 pm by David Farrar

The SST reports Sir Ian McKellen’s interview where he reveals Helen Clark told him that NZ was deeply racist.

For example, I met Helen Clark while I was in Wellington. I was invited to her official residence, and waved in by a lone policeman who didn’t even check who I was, then I had a barbecue with her. I congratulated her on the public’s enlightened attitudes towards racial issues, but she disagreed. She said to me that New Zealand was really a very racist country , and she was determined to do everything she could as prime minister to change that.

First I could comment with bemusement how Helen thought attacking critics of her law removing the right of Iwi to go to court by labelling them”haters and wreckers” changed things for the better.

But I am sure that McKennen is correct and Helen did and does think NZ is a deeply racist country. We saw this when she spoke out on the Police shooting of Steve Wallace as being to do with racist attitudes. The fact the officer who had to fire the gun was also Maori was an inconvenient fact.

So in one sense, Clark’s view of New Zealand as deeply racist is no surprise. It would be interesting to ask her successor as Labour Leader whether or not he agrees with his former boss that New Zealand is a very racist country, and what does he plan to do to change it.